Friday, August 27, 2010

Public Transportation

I have always loved seeing the rush of the trains and the use of public transportation when I travel. I've ventured into Boston on the Orange Line, overnighted in a shared cabin in France, eluded pickpockets in Barcelona, double paid because I couldn't figure out a "transfer" in Chicago, even been kicked off a bus (we got on the wrong bus and ended up at the bus garage) with my bestie in San Diego. But I have never, ever experienced public transportation in my own city. Until today that is.

I have to say, I was quite nervous about the whole journey. What if I get on the wrong train? What if I miss my stop? What if...

I worry too much.

The longer I live downtown, the more I love it. While the big box stores and gas stations are not on every corner, there is an amazing convenience and connection to life. So at 6:30 on this gorgeous summer morning, I walked the 2 blocks from my house to the nearest Light Rail station (Chicago has the El, Paris has the Metro, London has the Tube, we have the Light Rail.) Just for living downtown, the transporation authority mailed us a couple of free passes to ride the Light Rail, so a FREE ride was even more exciting. I just had to figure out how to validate my ticket. I went to the ticket machine figuring I would use my pass like a coupon. No luck. After a couple of tries with that thing, I realized that there was a plainly marked Ticket Validator machine. I was an obvious first timer for sure.

I was supposed to take the D train 3 stops to the convention center, then get off and get on the F train for 12 stops which would take me to the stop nearest to my office. I had it memorized. Imagine my shock then when the D train came but it was going the wrong way! Oh jeez...maybe I should call husband and have him drive me an hour and a half out of his way to drop me off at work instead. Breathe...I asked the one other person sitting on a bench at my stop. He told me that the train would be back in 5 minutes going the right way. He couldn't have been more than 14 and he had it down. Again...obvious first timer here.

The rest of the trip was completely uneventful. The trains were on perfect schedules, I read my new "This Old House" magazine that had arrived the day before. After dogearing all of the pages of project ideas, I just sat and thought about all that I could accomplish each day if this was my commute. I could read books, magazines, sketch, come up with ideas for the house, mentally organize my brain. As an added bonus, the train drives down the west side of the city, so there are gorgeous views of the mountains.

The commute is nearly double a "normal" commute from my house, however an accident, bad traffic, or snow can vary my commute by 5 minutes to an hour or more depending the cause and it seems like there is always something. The train's schedule is far more accurate than the stop lights and traffic. Plus, I got to work without any incidents of road rage!

While I definitely enjoy the freedoms of having my own car (running to target at lunch, picking up people from the airport, stopping at the grocery store on the way home), I think I might actually give this a shot. I mean, if husband can ride his bike to work everyday, surely I can withstand a productive train ride.

Yea...I think I could handle this.

Yea...I think I could handle this.

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